Gaborone — First Lady Neo Masisi has identified factors contributing to the annual death toll of child cancer patients in sub-Saharan Africa.
Giving an overview of Botswana and SADC's Childhood Cancer status during a Global Hematology Oncology Paediatric Excellence (HOPE) reception, she said they included inadequately trained health care professionals, limited health care facilities and inadequate cancer medication.
Ms Masisi said 90 per cent of the approximately 100 000 children in sub-Saharan Africa who developed cancer every year died due to inadequate medical care.
Comparing the statistics to those of the US where nearly 85 per cent of children with the disease survived, Ms Masisi said the treatment they received was fairly basic and affordable.
'Therefore it is clear to all of us that a solution exists to address this situation and save the lives of African children and therefore I pledge my strong support to the work of Global Hope and its mission,' she said.
The First Lady said given the statistics, she considered it imperative to accept the Global HOPE Council invitation as a way of contributing meaningfully to fighting childhood cancer in Botswana and sub-Saharan Africa.
For the country to succeed in the quest to overcome childhood cancer, visionary political leadership and fair commitment were necessary, she said.
The First Lady stressed the need for training of health care professionals to equip them with the necessary expertise to deal with childhood cancer and related blood diseases.
Also required was proper infrastructure and facilities for accurate diagnosis and effective treatment of cancer, she said.
Ms Masisi urged lawmakers, business community, civil society and individuals to partner with the Global HOPE in raising awareness and treating childhood cancer in Botswana and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa.
For his part, Mr Michael McCaul of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said a generation of people could be saved through public private partnerships.
"We can work together to advance the treatment of childhood cancer in Africa just like we have done in USA. I believe that a child's chances of surviving cancer should not be predicated by where it is born and I am proud to be part of the Global Hope initiative."
Global HOPE, he said, was making amazing strides in raising awareness of childhood cancer and blood related diseases.
Source : BOPA